Mind projection fallacy

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"The map is not the territory, but you can't fold up the territory and put it in your glove compartment".

Our minds are not transparent windows unto veridical reality; when you look at a rock, you see not the the rock itself, but your mind's representation of the surface of the rock, reconstructed from nerve impulses resulting from photons reflecting off the surface of the rock and being absorbed by your retina. Sugar in and of itself is not inherently sweet; the sugar itself only has the chemical properties that it does, which your brain, making inferences from cues given by your tongue, interprets as sweet. Physicist, polymath, and Bayesian philosopher E. T. Jaynes coined the term mind projection fallacy to refer to this failure to distinguish between epistemological claims (statements about belief, about your map, about what you can say about reality) and ontological claims (statements about reality, about the territory, about how things really truly are out there in the world).

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  • E. T. Jaynes (1990). Probability Theory as Logic.  (PDF)